Arkansas Healthcare

Arkansas' insurance commissioner says health insurance rates on the state's marketplace will increase by no more than 7.15 percent next year.

The Arkansas Insurance Department approved the 2016 rates for companies participating in Arkansas' health insurance marketplace, which was established under the federal health care overhaul. More than 57,000 Arkansans receive tax credits to purchase insurance through the exchange.

Governor Asa Hutchinson John Selig Medicaid DHS Department of Human Services
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

The consultant hired by the Health Reform Legislative Task Force said Thursday that a standard 30-day deadline for responding to a request for income verification for Medicaid eligibility is “probably appropriate,” while Department of Human Services Director John Selig defended the state’s current 10-day deadline.

Governor Asa Hutchinson John Selig Medicaid DHS Department of Human Services
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson laid out a seven-point plan Wednesday that would continue Arkansas’ participation in the Medicaid expansion through the private option while requiring recipients to participate in employer-sponsored plans and pay premiums.

Hutchinson John Selig
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

The backlog of Medicaid and private option recipients has been eliminated, and the Department of Human Services again will begin sending out notices of termination letters to private option recipients deemed ineligible because of changes in income or because they did not respond to a request to verify their income.

A consulting group hired by a legislative task force says the Private Option will have a net positive fiscal impact for the state of Arkansas budget of $438 million through 2021.

Asa Hutchinson governor
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

As of Tuesday it will have been two weeks since the governor issued a two week pause in issuing Medicaid termination notices but it’s not entirely clear if the moratorium will end on schedule. Expanded staffing levels called for by the governor on August 4th are not up to scale yet either.

Governor Asa Hutchinson (R) discussing changes to eligibility verification for Medicaid in the Governor's Conference Room at the Capitol in early August.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Arkansas is expected to end a two week pause to sending out Medicaid termination notices on Tuesday. Governor Asa Hutchinson issued the moratorium on August 4th so that the Department of Human Services could process what he called an “information overload.”

Health care consumers who purchased their insurance through an exchange are less satisfied with their coverage but were more cost-conscious when considering their plans.

Insurance exchanges are online marketplaces for purchasing health insurance that conforms with the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

Health Care Task Force Chair, Senate Majority Leader Jim Hendren (R-Gravette) during a break in the meeting.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The Affordable Care Act continues to help Arkansas - more than any other state in the nation - to reduce its percentage of uninsured residents. A survey released on Monday by Gallup shows Arkansas has cut its uninsured rate by more than half since the first provisions of the ACA went live in 2013.

UAMS campus / UAMS

  More than 200 physicians have completed their medical residencies at UAMS, and more than half of those will practice in Arkansas, the university announced in a press release.

The 214 physicians who finished their training June 30 practice more than 50 specialities between them. Fifty-six practice family medicine, and of those, 33 will remain in Arkansas, including seven who will practice in small towns.

The press release cited American Association of Medical Colleges’ statistics saying that only seven states had higher retention rates than UAMS.